Podcasts site, forced to pause for lack of money

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Radio stops for three months. The first paid podcast studio struggles to find enough subscribers to continue the adventure. Explanations from the co-founder, Pascale Clark.

Three months of reflection. It’s time for Pascale Clark and Candice Marchal to save Radio . The “native” podcasts studio, launched a year and a half ago , has not found its business model – despite the support of a thousand subscribers, against six thousand over three years. While the craze for podcasts is exponential, Radio – which has contributed to this revolution in use by offering the first pay platform in France – may seem ahead of its time, in a context where the French are accustomed to “consume” free radio. Interview with Pascale Clark, co-founder of the studio with Candice Marchal.

How do you envision the coming months?
With Candice, we decided to ask ourselves a few months to think and try to project ourselves. We believe that a solution is possible, we seek it. We see a lot of people and receive many offers of collaboration. Nothing is excluded. For almost two years now, we have projects in the fallow because we did not have the time to process and develop them. This break will allow us to review our productions and come back with a more refined, assertive and, hopefully, surprising editorial proposal.

“The free sound does not exist: either it is paid by the fee, or by listening to long and recurring advertising pages.”

In the United States, subscribing to a podcast platform is common. But can the paid model work in France?
Free information is an illusion, and can even damage our profession by playing on the spectacular and the clicks. Citizens are beginning to understand that quality information has a cost. But it is true that we are the first to have imagined to pay to listen to good sound. The free sound does not exist, it is a lure to believe it: either it is paid by the fee, or by listening to long and recurrent pages of advertising.

What are the new economic solutions for Radio?
We realize that our ambition (to go on the field, to spend time there, to mount, to realize, to take care of the sound) requires means that we do not have. Several possibilities are therefore available to us: to find new investors who correspond to our ethics, to associate ourselves with other independent media, to propose our know-how, our voices, our signatures to those who are looking for quality podcasts. If a patron reads you, we will meet him very willingly!

When you created Radio, you did not want commercials or financial commitments with industry magnates who own most of the French media. What about today ?
It will not change. Mechanically, the concentrations are harmful to the multiplication of the glances. As far as advertising is concerned, our ideal world does not contain noise pollution that encourages consumption. On the other hand, we would like our media to be recognized by the CPPAP (Joint Committee for Publications and News Agencies), which would enable us to increase our VAT from 20% to 2% and to have access to the aid planned for the new media. However, the award criteria are not adapted to our time: only writing is taken into account and not sound, even if it is of public and general interest. If the new Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, had two minutes to agree to talk about it, it would be with pleasure!

“We did not take enough into account the almost perfect marriage between the podcast and the series.”

Can you imagine reading the advertising of your partners before launching a documentary, as it is practiced on other platforms?
There, I take a shot of old: I’m from an era – a school? – where watertight partitions separated journalism from commerce and information from communication. It seems that porosity has invaded some new media. With Candice, we did not ask ourselves the question: all our time and energy was spent on content, topic angle, journalism rather than marketing and communication. We promise to try to make progress in the last two areas.

The ergonomics of the site is it to rethink?
Absolutely, a redesign of the site and the application is a necessity.

Why not have developed documentary serials such as Serial American Serial to retain listeners?
It is true that we have not sufficiently taken into account the almost perfect marriage between the podcast and the series. We tested very different formats, it was also the best way to test everyone’s tastes. However, we will not close a Serial in France, or it is to find ours, which would not necessarily go through a court case (the US and French judicial systems are very different), because you need to know to invent and not to copy.

“We have preceded fashion and have to wait for it to become a wave.”

Are fiction planned?
Ideally yes, economically not yet!

And the talk? These programs with guests and debates around social issues?
The sound as we imagine it in podcast on Radio is the ideal vector to take the pulse and listen to the human voices. It can only be done in the field. Radio has produced and directed nearly two hundred and thirty reports and documentaries. We give the floor to people we do not hear elsewhere (or when we hear them, it’s twenty-two seconds). We have worked dozens of journalists, authors, directors … among other things we obtained the Franco-German Journalism Prize and were nominated for the Prix Europa.

From my career [to France Inter, RTL …, ed], I kept the taste of direct studio, but it has not yet its place on Radio. And then round tables are sufficiently present on traditional radio and new platforms.

Have not you arrived too early in developing the uses of the podcast in France?
We have preceded fashion and have to wait for it to become a wave. It’s about holding in the meantime.